Interviewer: Professor Perlman, thank
you very much for recording this interview
today on the current knowledge of
the biology of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
How does this strain compare to the past
SARS strain in terms of the biology and
Prof. Perlman: I think that
in terms of the biology and
genetics it is very similar.
We knew early on in this epidemic that
the structure of this virus was almost
the same as that of the SARS
coronavirus or the MERS coronavirus, or
for that matter the coronaviruses
that we've studied for
years that infect mice, so we know they
all have the same organization of genes.
There are certainly subtle differences
because they enter cells by different
receptors, they have different numbers
of what we call 'accessory proteins'
which we think evade the immune response,
these are completely unrelated though we
think they have very similar functions.
But these are relatively small details
compared to the overall structure,
which is very similar between
all these different viruses.
Interviewer: How can the knowledge that
we do have help in the containment of
Prof. Perlman: Well,
because we've learned so
much about coronaviruses over the years,
we know which proteins might be prone
to the effects of developing therapies.
Remember, viruses always grow inside
our cells so it's very hard to develop
therapies, because they use some of
the same mechanisms that we need just
to grow and live, so we can't randomly
inhibit the functions of a virus.
But because we have so much knowledge
of these viruses we're able to
identify those proteins which are not
found in the normal cell, and
which therefore are able to be
inhibited by adding outside inhibitors.